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Deadly Fungus Now Resistant To All Known Treatments

Jan 9, 2020

Ars Technica – A deadly fungal pathogen developed the ability to resist all existing antifungal drugs on three separate occasions in the United States, according to a new report.

The fungus, Candida auris, was already classified as an “urgent threat” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the emergence of so-called “pan-resistant” strains raises additional concern, according to the report’s authors, who are infectious disease specialists at the CDC and the New York State Department of Health.

They published their findings Thursday in the CDC’s publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

C. auris was first identified in 2009 in Japan and has since popped up in nearly 40 countries. (It arrived in the US by 2013, and New York City, Chicago, and New Jersey have been hit the hardest.)

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The insidious germ is known for creeping around healthcare facilities and infecting vulnerable patients, causing invasive infections marked by nondescript fever and chills.

Somewhere between 30 percent and 60 percent of patients die from the infection. (Determining the exact fatality rate is tricky because the fungus often preys upon patients already suffering from life-threatening conditions.)

Part of what makes C. auris strains so dangerous is that they seem to develop resistance to antifungal drugs relatively easily. Only three classes of antifungal drugs are used to treat C. auris infections: triazole, polyene, and echinocandins classes. And many strains are already resistant to one or two of those.

A survey of strains found in New York discovered that over 99 percent could withstand triazole drugs, while over 60 percent were resistant to polyene drugs. So far, resistance to echinocandins has been rare in the US and, as such, that class has been the standard first-line treatment.

But, in the new MMWR report, the infectious-disease researchers describe just how easily that can change … Read more.

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